Restoring Respect for Justice

By Martin Wright.
Waterside Press

£20, ISBN 1 872 870 78 3

This book presents a “virtual” symposium on
restorative justice in which imaginary speakers provide a critique of our
criminal justice system and present arguments why restorative justice can do
better.

The speakers fall into three camps. The
Politician and The Judge argue that they and their colleagues make the best of
a bad job. The slogan “prison works” works, says The Politician, even if prison
doesn’t.

The Psychologist and The Philosopher, however,
contend that the punishment and the legal systems only serve the interests of
lawyers, not those of victims or offenders.

This, in turn, creates the space for the three
practitioners to argue the merits of restorative justice: The Probation
Officer, The Victim Assist-ance Worker and The Mediator.

This very accessible book is an invaluable
introduction to the ideas behind restorative justice and a convincing argument
for extending the range of restorative justice initiatives being piloted across
the UK.

The one problem is the lack of voices of those
who in the real world retain the upper hand, such as the home secretary’s
promises to get tougher still on “persistent young offenders”. This book is the
case for the converted, now bring on The Devil’s Advocate.

David Porteous is lecturer and research fellow,
University of Luton.

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